Chris dropped the phone on the desk in front of him and then snatched it back up to apologize to Jeff. "I'm sorry, I dropped the phone. They want to meet me?" He gulped nervously. "What does Ben do for a living?"
"He's retired now," Jeff answered. "If you tell me that you can't make it because of work, I'm sure they will understand."
"Dad always said there are no holidays or days off in the hospitality industry," Chris pointed out. "But I think this is important to you and to them. Why don't you all come back here and stay at the hotel?"
"Chris, do you mean it? You will meet them?" Jeff asked failing at his attempt to keep his excitement out of his voice. "I mean it would be bad enough meeting your boyfriend's parents, but these are your boyfriend's former in-laws. The parents of my boyfriend that died; the boyfriend you are replacing..."
"Jeff, hush!" Chris told him. "For one thing you are panicking and rambling. For another, you are scaring me. But mostly you need to understand that I am not replacing Kyle. I don't want to do that and I would never try; not in your life or in Colonel's." He paused for a moment and then pointed out, "You still haven't told me what Ben retired from. Was he CIA or a sniper in any branch of the military?"
Jeff laughed and replied, "No, he was an accountant, you goof. This isn't Meet the Parents, and he is nothing like Robert DeNiro."
"Ben is much better looking than DeNiro," Laura laughed as she stuck her head in the room. "If you don't get down there to eat your breakfast, Ben and Colonel won't leave you any." She raised her voice a little then and said, "I'm more dangerous than Ben, Chris. Colonel is always accusing me of trying to break his ribs with my hugs."
"Ok, I'm convinced, bring them over and you guys can stay as long as you want," Chris returned. "You can pay for the rooms by helping me find a contractor to do the work on the hotel that you talked me into."
"I did what?" Jeff laughed. "You came up with that idea to get me alone in your office, remember?" He then blushed profusely as someone on Chris' end of the line spoke loudly.
"Yeah, next time maybe you should stay alone instead of broadcasting."
"No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you very much," Chris scolded whoever it was, before speaking to Jeff again. "Go eat and then pack the family up and get back here. I miss you too much already."
"I miss you, too," Jeff admitted. "I will talk with them and see what they say, and then I will call you back."
"What are we going to be talked to about, son?" Ben said from the doorway this time. "By the way, your son ate your breakfast, so Mom is making you some more."
"Grampa! You helped," Colonel protested.
"I had one piece of bacon," Ben told Jeff, but Colonel was standing behind him holding up five fingers.
"Chris can't get away from the hotel long enough to come here for a visit, but he offered to have you guys and us come there and stay for a couple of days. He said it would be his treat as long as I do some work while I am there."
"This man isn't forcing you to..."
"No, Dad! Nothing like that. He wants me to help him find a contractor to do some renovations on the hotel," Jeff clarified.
"Yeah he needs to soundproof his office," Colonel said with a giggle.
"He is also planning to take out the individual showers by the pool and have one big large shower room, so no one can sneak into the stalls and do things they aren't supposed to," Jeff said very seriously.
"We never did nothing in the showers by the pool," Colonel squeaked defensively.
"You never did anything in the showers by the pool," Jeff corrected.
"No we didn't," Colonel affirmed in his defense, totally missing the grammar lesson. "We only played around in my room. I swear, Dad."
"I brought your breakfast up to you, so I can be sure you are the one that eats it this time," Laura announced as she walked into the room with a plate of food. "Well, if you are off the phone, you could have come to the table after all."
"You don't have time to fuss over the boy about eating now, Laura dear," Ben told his wife. "You have to go start packing for our trip."
"Chris has asked if you two could come back to the hotel and meet him there," Jeff explained.
"Oh, that sounds nice," Laura agreed with a smile. "I'll start packing right away."
"Bring your bathing suit, Gramma," Colonel called out. "The pool is awesome."
"Hey, maybe you and Dad could take the suite with the hot tub in it," Jeff suggested. "I'll call Jeff back and let him know," he announced as he started pushing buttons.
"HEY JEFF!!" Chris called out. "You never said goodbye and you never hung up, so I stayed on the line. Of course your folks can have the hot tub suite if they would like it. I will see you all in a couple of hours when you get back here."
"Eat your break....." Laura started to tell Jeff again and then realized that the plate was empty again. "Benjamin! Colonel! For shame on you two."
"Well he wasn't eating it, Gramma," Colonel rationalized. "It was going to waste."
"Yes and I see whose waist it will show up on too," Laura smirked as she patted her husband's stomach. "Come on you two chow hounds," she said as she grabbed them both by the arms. "Help me get ready for our little vacation." She shrugged at Jeff who was sitting there staring at the empty plate. "I tried twice to help you out. You're on your own now."
"They ate my breakfast.... Twice," Jeff pouted into the phone. "My own son ate my breakfast and his grandfather helped. You are going to have to feed me when I get there," he told Chris.
"I'll be happy to, love," Chris assured him. "In fact, Little Chris will be here tonight helping with dinner, so Colonel's grandparents can meet him too."
"That sounds terrific, Chris," Jeff said with a smile. "We will see you in a few hours." Jeff hung up and started putting the clothes he had just gotten out of the suitcase back into it again.
Ben and Laura opted to drive their own car and follow Jeff to Chris' hotel. Colonel chose to ride with them on this trip, so they could hear his Chris sing. At the first joint potty break, Ben asked to ride with Chris. He assured everyone that he did indeed like the music and the boys' voices. He swore that he just wanted to talk with Jeff. Once the cars were moving again, he told Jeff that while he really did think the boys on the recording were talented, listening to it twice through was enough for one day. Jeff agreed and sent a silent thank you to Laura for her patience.
They arrived just after lunch, but Chris had been waiting for them, so he had joined them for a late meal in the hotel dining room. Laura surprised Chris by hugging him tightly as soon as she was introduced. She then grabbed him by the arm and walked to the dining room telling him how lovely the place was, but that she could clearly see how her sweet Jeff was desperately needed to help out.
"Mom, it's generally considered polite if you don't insult my clients," Jeff pointed out.
"I wasn't insulting, Jeff, I was making sure he knew how talented you are, and how lucky he is to have you," she replied sweetly.
One of the front desk clerks was walking by just then and murmured, "As long as he doesn't have him on the intercom anymore." At the stern look from Chris, the man just shrugged and said, "Just saying."
"Now Chris, whatever did he mean by that?" Laura asked innocently. Chris blushed like a schoolboy and she just giggled and hugged him close. "Oh that little episode Colonel was telling us about?"
"Colonel," Chris sputtered. "And here I thought you were my friend."
"Oh you are," Colonel answered. "But she's Gramma and that beats friend any time."
"Well he's got you there, Chris," Jeff grinned. "For the record, it also apparently beats out Dad too."
"Grandparents have always trumped everyone else, Jeff," Ben said with a laugh.
"Everyone except boyfriends," Colonel said with a big dopey grin.
"Well, we'll see about that when we meet him, young man," Laura told Colonel. "I'm so glad I thought to bring along the photo albums to show both Chris'."
"Don't you Mom and Gramma me, you two. I seem to recall doing the same for you Jeff when you and Kyle first started getting serious."
"You showed me those photo albums when were still in school together," Jeff pointed out. "That was long before Kyle and I got together."
"Don't be silly, Jeff," Laura dismissed casually. "A mother knows when her son is in love, and Kyle was from the first minute he saw you. You were with him as well. We just had to wait for the two of you to get together. Most of this gray hair came from the two of you, you know."
"Now how do figure that, Mom?" Jeff asked her.
"Well first we had to get Kyle to figure out he was gay, which I thought he would never do," she began. "I knew when that boy was thirteen that I would never get a daughter in law from him. He finally came out to us while the two of you were in college together. I thought you two were already dating at that point, since all he ever talked about was how wonderful you were."
"He was right about that, you know," Ben said proudly. "You have been a wonderful son in law, and now you're an even better son. Laura is right though. You two were totally clueless, and you especially, Jeff. You collected decorative kitchen towel sets in college. I say this with pride and love, son, but really... How much gayer could you be and still not know it yourself."
"It sounds like Jeff has a history of not realizing when someone likes him," Chris said quietly. "And of not facing his own feelings for them as well."
"Well, he and Kyle figured it out eventually, and now so have the two of you," Ben said with a smile. "That is the important part. Never waste a moment that you could be spending in love with that special someone who makes your whole world brighter."
"You old softie, you," Laura teased, but she had the biggest happiest smile as she did.
"I don't know for sure, but I think I have been insulted at some point in this conversation," Jeff pouted.
"Yes, but we love you, son," Laura told him with a hug.